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CHR board discusses finances and future fundraising

January 28, 2014
By MCKENZIE CASSIDY ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The Board of Directors for Sanibel's Community Housing and Resources debated on Jan. 20 whether the non-profit should focus more on development and fundraising in the future.

Board Members were first presented with the organization's financial audit for September 2012/2013, prepared by Tuscan & Company, PA, a Fort Myers-based certified accounting firm.

Jeff Tuscan and Lisa McKenzie of Tuscan & Company presented the audit to the board and members discussed some of the findings. CHR had a slight operating loss, said Tuscan, but only because of property depreciation rather than the loss of any cash. Long term debt and inventory also decreased because of a prior year's home sale.

Overall, the organization was in sound financial shape. The non-profit is currently operating in the black and had $30,000 worth of reserves last year for the first time ever.

Establishing reserves is important for any non-profit organization in case of an emergency or economic downturn, said Tuscan, yet he pointed out that it can be challenging for donations-based non-profits like CHR to maintain those undesignated amounts for long.

Tuscan said that, on average, non-profits keep the equivalent of six months worth of operational costs as reserves in case of a rainy day. CHR's operational costs are close to $1.3 million, meaning it would need to set aside $600,000.

Board Members described the $30,000 as a first step in building important reserves.

"We are certainly nowhere near the suggested goal of having those reserves, but we have started the journey," said Board Member Phil Marks.

Board President Richard Johnson said the current board had accomplished tremendous financial growth in only a few years.

"Look at where we are to where we were a few years ago," said Johnson. "I am proud to be part of this organization."

At the end of the meeting Johnson also led a discussion on whether the board's focus should be shifted from operational to fundraising and major development. Until now it has been heavily involved with day-to-day operations and Johnson wanted to hear from board members about whether they should engage in more development.

"In order for us to do the things we say and protect the sustainability of the organization, we are going to have to look outside," said Johnson.

The resulting discussion centered on whether individual board members should focus more on development, if a full-time director of development should be hired to coordinate with staff, or if current Executive Director Kelly Collini's responsibilities should be shifted to do more fundraising and development.

They agreed that in order for CHR to build up a significant amount of reserves and expand in the community, it would need more development and fundraising.

"If you really want to build reserves and do some of the renovation projects you'll have to build up more money," said Marks.

The CHR is hosting its second annual Mardi Gras Party on March 1 at The Dunes Golf & Tennis Resort, featuring a Cajun dinner, Dixieland band, children's activities, a silent auction, and a raffle. It is the non-profit's largest fundraising event of the year.

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